Are you making music from home? Do you have the right laptop for work? We show you here how to choose a laptop for music production.
Music creation, performance, and production have never been so easy or accessible. If you own one of the best laptops for music production, with a few small steps, you can access the types of technology that were once owned by professional studios.
From comprehensive “band in a box” tools to expansive multi-track recording environments, the things you can do now with little more than a consumer-grade laptop are amazing.
We think it is a great hobby and we want to share it. In this guide, we will outline some tips for choosing a music-oriented laptop for your home recording studio.
Read on to learn everything from the specs you’ll need, how you can optimize it for a recording, as well as some tips on specific details to keep in mind when choosing a laptop to record music.
Start with the specifications
When you choose a laptop to record music, there are certain things you will need to do it. The key among them is pure, unadulterated performance. It’s nice to have sophisticated features like name-brand speakers, touch screens, or 4K resolution, but they’re not essential for a music production laptop.
Here, it is important to consider your CPU, RAM, and storage media. Each of these components will determine how much work you can do and how fast you can do it.
The CPU controls how fast your laptop will process things and how many of these things it can do at one time. All virtual instruments, plug-ins, and other processing tasks use the CPU, and you’ll quickly discover that the process freezes if your CPU isn’t ready for the job in question. Intel Core i5 and higher, or Best Motherboards for Ryzen 5 2600 and higher, should give you enough power to complete most tasks.
RAM controls how much data is stored in short-term memory on the laptop. This is manifested in how many audio tracks you can have at your disposal, or how many individual samples you can use. Ideally, here you will want more than 8 GB.
If you have less than that, you’ll see that working with digital audio workstations (DAW) can be a heartbreaking experience. It’s also worth seeing if this can be updated in the future, which is a fairly simple job but has a huge impact on performance.
Finally, the storage medium is possibly the least important of the three factors we have described, but certainly, one to consider. While traditional hard drives (HDDs) can store large volumes of files and data, they are not the fastest to get that data where it needs to be.
For this purpose, you should look for solid-state drives (SSDs) that offer blazing-fast data transfer speeds. So, for example, you can store large sample libraries and stream them to your DAW without glitches or other issues.
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Keep the budget
Ah, finance, the cruel lover. While we’d all love to specify a high-end Apple MacBook Pro, there are certain economic realities that the vast majority of us have to face. It is therefore important to have an idea of how much you are willing to spend before visiting online stores.
Our guide to choosing a Best laptop for Pentesting some great options at the bottom end of the scale, but, as with anything, you get what you pay for. For us, the jump in performance once you hit the $ 500 marker makes it the sweet spot for a basic machine suitable for music production.
Design and features
As we mentioned earlier, it’s worth considering what you’ll be using the laptop for. If purchased for the sole purpose of music production, please note the specification sheet carefully. Spend as much as you can on CPU, RAM, and storage media from your hard-earned dollars and ignore those sophisticated features that make headlines. The touch screens and aesthetics are great, but not at the expense of performance.
That said, go for SSD instead of HDD whenever possible, and when it comes to connectivity, it’s a safe bet to assume that external peripherals and equipment like MIDI keyboards and audio interfaces will pivot to USB-C in the future, so make sure to be well supplied in those areas
Also, consider battery life. While many, if not most, of the studios that use laptops, will install them in a static location, the benefits of portability should not be ruled out. Throwing your entire studio set up in a backpack and working on the beach or in the mountains, for example, is a liberating experience that you can’t do with a desktop PC.
Software and apps
The relationship between hardware and software is strongly intertwined in music production. A laptop is as good as the software it runs, and the software is as good as the laptop allows. Apple has a distinct advantage here in that Logic Pro X, its proprietary DAW is specifically designed to work only with Apple’s operating system, and as such, there is an inherent performance boost. Everything, to say in one sentence, just works.
Windows-based laptops, on the other hand, still have a huge selection to choose from, including AVID’s Ableton Live, Cubase, and Pro Tools, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Putting Apple apps aside, any laptop with decent specs should be able to handle projects from any major DAW. Which leaves you with another decision to make, and one we cover here.
It is reasonable to question how long you intend or wait, to switch from your laptop. Technology advances so fast today and it’s easy to get caught up in competition to always have the fastest and most powerful machine. It pays to keep an eye on whether the chosen laptop can be updated by yourself in the future.
Windows-based machines, specifically those in the gaming domain, often allow the user to upgrade individual components like RAM or storage without too much trouble. However, music production is still possible on older computers, using the methods we describe here.